A first-ever win over Wang Yihan and her first Superseries final in Europe, it wasn’t too bad for a player coming in to the Denmark Open with just three weeks of training after her Olympic bronze medal-winning performance.
Saina Nehwal finally broke the jinx against Wang Yihan after the World No.1 conceded the match with an apparent right knee injury. The result means Saina will take on Germany’s Juliane Schenk, who upset another Chinese girl, Jiang Yanjiao, in the other semifinal.
After a nervous start, when she found herself 0-5 down, Saina slowly got back into the match with her typical brand of gutsy badminton. From 6-all, she pocketed the next six points in a row and just got stronger from there as Yihan appeared unsettled and even slow at times.
The same pattern continued in the second game. Saina had a 11-6 lead going into the 20-second break, and Yihan immediately began wincing and stretching her leg, apparently in pain. One point later, she decided to retire.
Saina was sceptical about the injury. “I didn’t see her pull anything, there was no jerk or anything of the sort,” she said.
“I was nervous to begin with, because I haven’t beaten her in six meetings. But once I got going, I put my strategy in place. She’s very quick and attacking, so you need to open up the game before going for your smashes. That’s exactly what I did. That’s the way to play her.”
Saina takes on Juliane Schenk, and she has a 5-3 record against the German, although she lost their last encounter.
Schenk herself played a marvelous match against world No.8 Jiang Yanjiao. The Chinese had a nightmarish day, losing all their matches to non-Chinese opposition, in an unsual day for badminton. One hears that they had just a week’s training before arriving in Denmark.